Sunday, April 14, 2024

Eucharistic Revival Series: The Prophet in the Mirror

Prophet. What image does that word convey to you? A bearded man screaming out and pointing to someone in the distance while holding a staff like Charlton Heston? An older man leaning over a piece of papyrus writing in ink? Stained-glass windows depicting a figure from the Old Testament? Better yet: How about your own image as you look in a mirror?

Yes, really!

You see, at our Baptism, we were anointed as priest, PROPHET, and king/queen. Yes, you are a prophet! Contemplate that as I continue my series on the Eucharist.

In the book, Eucharist: Celebrating its Rhythms in our Lives by Father Paul Bernier, we read that an important part of our Eucharistic Liturgy is a “constant reminder that as followers of Christ we are called to change the world rather than be changed by it.”1 This is the role of a prophet. Father Bernier goes on to describe seven aspects of this prophetic role. The following descriptions in face are his ideas. The explanations after them are mine.

Read the signs of the times. The ability to do this bears to understand how the Gospel is being “sprouted” within the culture of today.  As prophets of the 21st century, we need to understand why things are happening without our society’s influence or perspective. The “why” might simply be a forgetfulness of who God is and who we are:  His children. This is the constant story of the Old Testament. The Jewish people were constantly forgetting who they were as chosen people of God. It seems that such a memory loss is part of human history.

Be sensitive to the pain and suffering around us. Evil and injustice are all around us. They are not just happening to folks in some far corner of the world, they are happening to those right “in our backyard.” We are called to be prophets by seeing those around us who are hurting and accompanying them in their journey. Sitting, listening as well as sharing their pain are the prophetic works in which we must engage whenever possible. The evil one isolates and separates. Prophets unite and celebrate community by merely listening and sitting with those who are in pain.

Be able to articulate alternate futures for ourselves. There is a saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing that does not work over and over again and expecting a different outcome.” Prophets do not speak about change for the sake of change but realize that systems and processes might need changing due to changes within the bigger structure. They have the courage to change what needs to be changed or even to speak about those changes. There is a famous prayer that I say on a daily basis: “Lord, give me the grace to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can change and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Be able to engage in history. In the midst of every human institution there is a bureaucracy that sometimes might seem daunting. A prophet is an individual who gives others a sense that there is something that can be done to make it better. This is how hope is born. Rather than being “stuck” in what is, a prophet declares how it could be and strives to make that happen.

Prophetic imagination must be in the service of peace and justice. During every liturgy, there is a journey into the purpose of redemption: a world that resembles the Garden of Eden in which all of humanity experiences union with God. This is a world of utter peace and complete justice. This is what we strive to create as we work to build the Kingdom of God here on earth!

The struggle for peace and justice must be based on love. As we can see in our world today, violence begets more violence and anger spawns more anger. Love is the only anecdote to this spiral. The cry of Christ on the cross, “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they do,” is the battle cry of the Kingdom of God. This is accomplished through love. This love is divine and was first given to us when we were baptized. We share this love when we forgive others and reach out to God to show us how. This kind of love gives us profound peace.

Be able to provide new symbols enabling people to see reality in a fresh way, allowing them to dream of what they can be. This is an interesting concept and Father Bernier explains it in the best way that I know: “We are prisoners of our symbols.  When the Church is thought of as a perfect society, with the main emphasis on institution, we have a very different idea of the Church and its ministry than if we see it as a community of disciples or as a prophetic force. Changing the symbols changes the way we see reality.”2

Prophets foster hope in a new future. This is all about the virtue of hope. Hope is one of the theological virtues and looks to our future destiny, heaven. It is given to us at our baptism. With a simple measure of trust, an understanding of mercy and a profound respect and love of the Eucharist, it’s all about seeking for what has been promised to us by Christ. The Eucharist is THE beacon of hope!

You might be wondering, what does being a prophet have in common with the Eucharist? The answer is quite simple. The Eucharist is the powerhouse, the everlasting battery, the heartbeat of a prophet. The Eucharist is the food that our soul needs to proclaim Him who gave us the Eucharist. We need to bask or sunbathe often in its radiance in order to strengthen our prophetic voice! The great news is that we don’t need any sunblock to bask in the light of this Son!

1 Bernier, P. Eucharist: Celebrating its rhythms in our lives. Ave Maria Press. 1993. P. 93 – 95.

2Ibid.  pg. 95.

By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, The Catholic Witness

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